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“John Kosichev” in Storyteller magazine

Posted by on May 23, 2017 in Blog Posts, Featured, Writing | 0 comments

As I said in my last post, it turns out that when you send stories regularly in answer to calls for submissions, you sometimes get stories accepted! I’m very excited to break my long publishing silence with a release in a new magazine, Storyteller, with a story that’s been a particular favorite of mine (even when it took a few drafts), “John Kosichev.”

Storyteller Magazine Vol 1, No 2, features stories from Heather Harrison, Therese Arkenberg, Artie Sievers, and Sam Fraser

Storyteller Magazine Vol 1, No 2, features stories from Heather Harrison, Therese Arkenberg, Artie Sievers, and Sam Fraser


This issue of Storyteller includes some gripping and rather timely stories tackling issues of virtual reality, dystopia, gender, and truth:

I, Avatar by  Heather Harrison
A young girl wakes to find she is an avatar for someone’s gaming entertainment.

John Kosichev by Therese Arkenberg
Paraded through the streets and about to be executed because of his resemblance to the infamous resistance leader John Kosichev, Eric Melbourne finds his own ways to resist, turning his captors’ lie into a new truth.

The Greenhouse by Artie Sievers
A young man goes shopping for a bride in a dystopian world where women are specially manufactured.

When Johnny Comes Marching Home by Sam Fraser
A soldier phones his wife to tell her he’s coming home… two years after he was killed in active combat.


“John Kosichev’s” titular hero has the folktale status of legends like Robin Hood–but becoming a myth carries risks, too, especially when your enemy is not bound by the truth*. To say nothing of the danger to ordinary people caught up in their machinations. Here’s an excerpt from the beginning:

“This is him?” Outside the cell, a woman’s voice, one he didn’t recognize.

“Him,” a guard agreed. There was a clatter of keys and the groan of the lock.

Eric’s heart leapt. Someone new, someone else he might convince…

The door opened, and she entered the cell. The look on her face, revealed for a moment by the lights in the corridor, made the words freeze in his throat.

“Hello, Eric,” she whispered, and he wished she had called him John Kosichev instead.

She crossed the room to where he had collapsed when they left him. “Eric,” she said, still whispering, “do you want to die with your tongue—or without?”

Silence stretched until she said, “I do expect an answer.”

He swallowed, working up enough saliva to speak. They had brought bread but no water the last time. “With, if possible.”

“That is possible.” She crouched over him. “You will die as John Kosichev. You will die silent—enforced by either your measures or ours—and you will not embarrass yourself, the Commonwealth, or me by any scenes or protests.”

“When?” He should be afraid, but he had grown so used to fear over the past days that he only felt curious.

“When will you die? Not for a while yet.” She stood. “There are a few things we want first—and we’ll need you to cooperate.”

She was almost at the door before he asked the other question. “Why are you doing this?”

“Because, John,” she answered over her shoulder, “you may not have heard, but you’re a criminal.”


You can get this issue and/or subscribe to Storyteller monthly on Amazon.

*I wrote this piece several years ago, fresh off a read of 1984 and caught up in the idea of a government propaganda machine so well-oiled that, among other things, it could produce prisoners of war from a conflict that might not even be happening. Or have we always been at war with Eastasia? Or was it Eurasia? Anyway, with “post-truth” being 2016’s Word of the Year, it seems Kosichev’s time has come. Or Oceania’s/the Commonwealth’s has, and I really hope that’s not the case.


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